Movie: "Tropic Thunder"
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Writing credits: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen
Plot: After his war movie gets canceled by a domineering studio boss, rookie filmmaker Damien Cockburn drops his spoiled actors into the middle of the Vietnam jungle to make his movie more authentic. They think they're still making a movie even when their lives are in real danger.
Review: Being a big fan of Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black, I was really looking forward to Tropic Thunder after I first heard about it, and I'm very happy to report that it doesn't disappoint. Downey Jr's performance here is particularly impressive as he plays a method actor who never breaks character until the movie is done. He's hilarious in his in-movie role as a black man, but fortunately there's a real black man (a fictional rapper named Alpa Chino) along for the ride to keep his bullshit in check. Stiller is pretty on par with most of his other performances, but his direction is particularly spot-on. If there's a weak link here, it's Jack Black, which is a shame as I normally really enjoy him in movies, but the only moment in this film where he truly cracked me up was the scene where he was tied to a tree, and we'll just leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
The movie opens with a series of fake trailers that introduce us to our "actors" and parody various movie franchises, and perhaps the best of the three was the Jack Black one that made fun of the stupid, stupid movies that Eddie Murphy has been making in recent years. But the Robert Downey Jr. one with the Tobey Maguire cameo is pretty damned amusing as well.
One thing that really struck me is how great looking this movie is. They obviously had a sizable production budget and they put it to good use, because it's rare that you see such big explosions and nice location shoots with a comedy. There are plenty of shots where this looks like a real war movie, which is of course exactly what they're going for. But far more than being a simple parody of war movies (and believe me, it makes fun of some of the more familiar cliches in hilarious ways), it's a brilliant satire of the ridiculous nature of Hollywood. I'm sure most of you have heard by now of Tom Cruise's role as an arrogant, brutish movie producer. Now, I'm no Tom Cruise fan (him being a crazy scientologist and all), but I have to admit that he did a fine job in this role (I heard that it was based on a real producer that he didn't get along with).
This is probably the best comedy I've seen in the theater this year (just barely edging out past Get Smart, and if you like any of the three main actors, you are sure to enjoy this film. It's also without a doubt the best movie that Stiller has directed, so if you enjoyed Zoolander or The Cable Guy, you should definitely check this one out!
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
Also the best comedic war movie ever made is Hot Shots: Part Deux. It will remain unbeatable until the ends of time.
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